Is it Romance, Erotica, or Pornography?

FB_IMG_1451904019609  Tonight I attended my first Erotica Salon gathering. My reason for attending was two-fold. One for the discussion, which was titled Adult Sex Ed. Two, to ‘hear’ what others call erotica since I don’t read it. I’ve heard numerous times that whatever genre you write, that’s what you should read. I’m horrible at that. I also write poetry and rarely read that as well. There were a few erotic poems read tonight, which satisfied my ‘reading’ erotica and poetry simultaneously (in my own way of thinking). 

The Adult Sex Ed discussion was interesting and something I doubt most people think about. It was on the differences between “romance,” “erotica,” and “pornography,” for both categorizing and marketing work. The general consensus was that romance is ‘soft porn’ and can be considered ‘erotica’ in that there is some sex within the story, though not explicit. Romance hinted at sex just enough to leave the actual act of intercourse to the imagination of the reader.

Pornography, it was agreed upon, was straight explicit sex. A storyline wasn’t necessary, though there may be some role play. For example, a handyman rings the doorbell, a woman opens the door in her robe. He says he’s there to check the pipes, she lets him in the house, and they have sex. The purpose of pornography is to explicitly show or describe sexual scenes.

Erotica was said to be the middle ground between romance and pornography. There is sex, but more importantly, there is a scenario, a storyline of romance that leaves the reader anticipating physical intimacy. The purpose of erotica is to lead the reader along through the story, pull you into the characters’ lives, and move with them through their thoughts and feelings into a sexual act. The act, itself, may or may not be explicit.

An attendee said something very interesting, and what I found to be true. She said that anything can be erotic, depending on the person and that person’s feelings. The example given was if someone really enjoyed live opera music. Walking into the theater can be considered foreplay, as can be the act of even dressing and preparing to go. Waiting for the curtain to draw back, for the orchestra to begin to play may be arousing. Tension builds up within the individual who is anticipating the opening of the show. The curtain opens, the orchestra strums, and the person’s five senses are engaged and brought to a head – the finale. So, yes, something not explicitly sexual can be erotic. Such can be said for certain fetishes. I once dated a guy when I was in high school who had a foot fetish, though I didn’t know there was a word or phrase for it at the time. He was extremely aroused whenever I removed my shoes. It turned him on. Bare feet was erotic for him and to see them, touch them, massage them, was foreplay for him. 

Each of us has the mental capacity to categorize things the way we desire. The purpose for this article is to ask that you open your mind and really think about the differences between what you watch and read, and to recognize that others may or may not see things the way you do.

The differences between romance, erotica, and pornography are subjective. What are your interpretations of those terms?

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Thank you.

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I journeyed from GED to a PhD in Psychology. I decided to focus on my writing once I retired from the clinical field. I write in various genres and have several WIPs for publication once edited. I post articles on this website for intellectual and entertainment purposes.

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